Expat life is fun. You get to explore new cultures, try new food and meet new friends. These are the kinds of friends who will stay with you forever, regardless of how many miles are between you or how often you talk on the phone.
I met Aparna in August of last year. She knocked on my door with her daughter looking for another neighbor girl. The other girl wasn’t over, but as Aparna was walking away I said to her, If there’s anything you need let me know. Her response, which I’ll never forget and always makes me smile? I need a friend. Well, let me tell you that’s what we both got that day.
I tease Aparna that she is the female, Indian version of my husband. She’s a curious realist who always knows the right thing to say. And she’ll say it, whether I want to hear it or not. Everyone needs to have a friend like that. A friend who doesn’t sugar coat anything. ANYTHING. A friend, who comes over and massages your back after you did God knows what working out. She’s always ready for an adventure and we’ve had many of those. But of course for one reason or another and as with every friendship, not as many as I would have liked.
What I could always rely on Aparna for is to try out whatever I was making, critiquing it like a Chopped Judge. Of the many things she’s tasted in my kitchen, her favorite is my Ancho-Chile Mushroom Soup.
The first time I made this soup was in London, and I’ve been making it regularly ever since. It’s super easy to make and offers a different take on mushroom soup from the classic Cream of Mushroom Soup. Aparna has asked several times for the recipe and I promised she could have it before she left (which lucky for me won’t be for a little while longer)
This recipe can easily be halved, doubled, and tripled….
`Ancho Chile Mushroom Soup
- 4T (60ml) Olive Oil, divided
- 6 Garlic Cloves
- 1 Medium Onion, sliced thick
- 2 (3-inch-long) Dried Ancho Chile (1/4 ounce), stem, seeds and veins removed. Cut into 4 pieces.
- 1t (5g) Sea Salt
- 1t (5g) Dried Oregano, crumbled
- 2 lb (1kg) Mushrooms, divided
- 2T (30g) Tomato Paste
- 7 cups (1.5L) Vegetable Broth
- 2 t (10g) Chili Powder
- Heavy Cream, for garnish
- Green Onions, sliced
- Half all of the mushrooms, except 5. Thinly slice the 5.
- Heat 3T (45ml) olive oil in a stock pot over medium high. Saute onion slices until lightly caramelized. Add garlic cloves and chile. Saute 1-2 minutes until garlic is fragrant and ancho is bright red.
- Add HALVED mushrooms to the chile mixture. Saute about 6 minutes or until the mushrooms are golden and liquid is evaporated.
- Stir in tomato paste.
- Reduce heat to medium and pour in broth. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat remaining 1T (15ml) of olive oil in pan on medium heat and saute SLICED mushrooms until liquid evaporates and golden in color. Sprinkle on chili powder and stir well. Set aside.
- Puree soup mixture with an immersion blender or blender until very smooth.
- Ladle into bowls and top with sauteed sliced mushrooms, a swirl of heavy cream and green onions.